By Arjenae Walker
Gentleman start your engines. A wake up call at 6 a.m. certainly kicked me into first gear. My first panel was at 8:30 so I had to be dressed and ready to register by 8. Thank God for Starbucks! Vanilla Bean Frappuccino and a butter croissant, breakfast of champions.
I attended the panel over Undergraduate Research on American Politics with Coby. Students from University of North Texas, UT Arlington, and Southwestern University, presented papers and were critiqued by the Discussant and audience. All participants performed well and gained my respect for having the courage to put themselves out there.
The next panel I attended was over African-American Cultural History. John Belleci, a graduate student at Cal State Fullerton, discussed his paper titled “Jim Crow Never Died.” The author argued that the spirit of Jim Crow lives on. Having lived across the South, it was of particular interest to me. I’ve always had a great love of history, and the panel was put on by the Phi Alpha Theta History Fraternity, so it was a nice fit.
After panel sessions we headed out to the World War II Museum. I come from a long line of vets and have an utmost respect for those who have served. Going through each exhibit, reading, hearing, and even seeing some of what took place during that time evoked both pride and pain. Pride because it’s an honor to live in the country these brave men and women sacrificed their lives for. Pain because of the simple fact that these were sons, daughters, fathers, sisters, etc., many of whom were under twenty-five years of age and who never made it home. A nation that banded together, women and men who put on their uniform, all unsure of what tomorrow might hold but having faith no matter what, is a nation that embodied what Francis Scott Key meant when he pinned the “Home of the brave.”
Our next stop was a small restaurant called Elizabeth’s. It was a neat little hole in the wall that required us to park in a vacant lot across the street. But don’t let its humble beginnings fool you. When I hear Elizabeth I think of a meek, conservative woman surely a character from the Bourgeoisie. But you see Betty is a slow talkin’, mean walkin’, Creole who can throw down in the kitchen. Elizabeth’s should really be called Betty’s because out came the best breakfast I ever had, catfish fried to perfection, scrambled eggs, and to seal the deal thick southern style grits just like my Granny makes. Needless to say I enjoyed my food very much.
It was a nice day so we visited the Besthoff Sculpture Garden just outside the New Orleans Museum of Fine Art. There were various pieces from artists across the world, from America to Israel. A piece that really stood out to me was “Mother and Child,” by Colombian artist Fernando Botero. The sculpture depicts one of Botero’s typically large mothers holding her child while standing on top of the child’s father. It reminded me of how in today’s society, with a divorce rate of fifty percent, mothers are often the only parent a child knows.
Continuing the theme of art, we visited NOMA and saw paintings by some notable artists such as Cassat, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Modigliani and O’Keefe to name a few. Even our old pal Blue Dog made an appearance.
To end the day the guys and myself had dinner at Remoulade on Bourbon St. It’s a good thing we’re traveling by foot for the majority of this trip since all this good food comes with calories galore!